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O’Malley’s Monday Musings

A collection of thoughts that must leave my mind prior to the start of Week Three.

1 – Anyone remember Rich Gunnell? Former Boston College receiver? Gunnell riddled a 2009 Notre Dame defense to the tune of 10 receptions (9 first downs) for 179 yards and a score. That’s the best comparison I can provide for Virginia wideout extraordinaire Canaan Severin and his efforts against the Irish secondary Saturday in Charlottesville: 11 grabs, 153 yards, 10 first downs, four of which occurred on money downs.

Both Gunnell and Severin carved up Irish secondaries replete with future pro talent – in fact, the entire 2009 starting Notre Dame secondary – coordinated by Jon Tenuta – played in the NFL and three remain active.
Note to the defensive coordinators of both of those Irish squads: this was not meant as a compliment.

2 – Speaking of coverage issues, Saturday’s upcoming matchup with Georgia Tech would be a great day for KeiVarae Russell to stop yielding deep post-route completions. If the 48-yarder allowed by Russell against Texas didn’t leave a lasting impression, maybe the 42-yard flea-flicker touchdown from Matt Johns to Keon Johnson will suffice. Virginia clearly had targeted the rusty Russell for the maneuver and the Cavaliers dialed it up at the perfect time.

Notre Dame’s other top projected players – Jaylon Smith, Sheldon Day, Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller – are living up to their pre-season press clippings. Russell is not, and he’s even further from his own perception of self.

3 – It’s clear the wrap/cast on Max Redfield’s right thumb impacted him as a player Saturday afternoon. It was likewise clear that reality bothered head coach Brian Kelly when asked about his safety, post-game. The ability to play through injury is part of being good, much less great in the sport of football, and Redfield will be put to the test as a tackler this week against Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack.

4 – If Notre Dame beats the Yellow Jackets Saturday and thus remains in college football’s playoff hunt, freshman quarterback Brandon Wimbush must play the following Saturday against Massachusetts.

Why? If Kizer turns an ankle (or worse) or is ineffective (or worse) in Death Valley, or against Navy or USC or among the preponderance of road outings thereafter, shouldn’t Wimbush be as well-prepared as possible to face the fire?

5 – For those that argue against burning a redshirt for freshmen quarterbacks (in Notre Dame’s current situation) allow me to offer a list of the best fifth-year senior quarterbacks in program history:

Joe Montana (medical redshirt), Ron Powlus (medical redshirt)….that is all.

6 – DeShone Kizer’s purported talents (through the eyes of analysts) vs. those of Malik Zaire exiting the high school ranks:

  • 2014 Kizer: 17th ranked QB, 263rd player overall, No. 2 in the Midwest, four-star prospect
  • 2013 Zaire: 14th ranked QB, 172nd player overall, No. 3 in the Midwest, four-star prospect

It’s not as if the Irish just went from Battle to Godsey.

7 – The notion of the 25-carry running back should probably cease its ludicrous, oft-uttered reference among college football media. Do you know how many Notre Dame running backs have averaged at least 25 carries per game for a season?

One, Vegas Ferguson, with 27 per contest over 11 games en route to 1,437 yards in 1979.  

In a modern 13-game season, 25 carries per game equates to 325 carries. Here are the high-water marks in terms of season carries during the school’s modern era:

-- The Kelly era: Cierre Wood, 217 carries, 2011
-- The Weis era: Darius Walker, 255 carries, 2006
-- The Willingham era: Ryan Grant 261, 2002
-- The Davie era: Autry Denson, 264 carries, 1997
-- The Holtz era: Denson 202 carries, 1996
-- The Faust era: Allen Pinkett 275 carries, 1984
-- The Devine era: Ferguson 301 carries, 1979
-- The Parseghian era: Wayne Bullock 203 carries, 1974

In other words, C.J. Prosise doesn’t have to, and won’t become a 25-carry back, especially not with Will Fuller as the offense’s top weapon. But he does need to withstand a workload in the 18-per game range. And that means freshmen Josh Adams or Dexter Williams needs to become an 8-10 carry guy with the other earning five-plus each Saturday to lighten the load over the long haul.

(Failing that, it becomes necessary that slot receiver Amir Carlisle earn a few reps each practice week and football Saturday among the Irish running backs, his former position group.)

If Prosise – 37 carries through two games – averages 18 carries over the next 11 outings he’ll finish with 235 on the season, the most of the Kelly era.

8 – Three of Notre Dame’s five opponents over the next month of action are ranked No. 14 (Ga. Tech, No. 11 Clemson, No. 6 USC) and a fourth, Navy, ranks as an annual annoyance for all things related to the Irish defense.  Brian Kelly’s toughest, most important 30-day period as the program’s head coach is on tap.

Onto Week Three… Top Stories